I’m not sure about the rest of you but I’m still awe-Ing over the dinner the English team had with the royal family after 1973’s memorable triumph but trust me when I say that was truly just the beginning! 5 years later, the silver cup was back again to kick off some serious action, this time in cricket-crazy India.
Unsurprisingly, this version was again a reasonably eventful one. To start with, this “World Cup” was concluded within just 2 weeks! Commencing on the first day of 1978 and ending on the 13th, it was a victim of manifold shortcomings. To start with, it was originally scheduled to take place in South Africa however, was boycotted internationally from sporting contracts due to political issues that prevented them from participating in the 1973 competition too. Other nations then bid to host the event and the Women’s Cricket Association of India (WCAI), now a part of BCCI was finally declared as organizers.
The competition consisted of 6 teams-debutant India, champions England, almost champions Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, and the Netherlands. Nonetheless, this too caught an evil eye as the Windies and Kiwis pulled out due to lack of finances which was a paramount hurdle for female cricketers back in the day. Consequently, this edition holds the record of having the fewest teams in a world-cup edition-just 4. The matches were played in 4 cities-Calcutta, Jamshedpur, Hyderabad, and Patna where each team played 3 matches totaling a funny 6.
This tournament was fully owned by the Aussies who made a remarkable comeback by remaining unbeaten and then going on to secure their first-ever title in their second consecutive final against England. Now, this is my kind of revenge!
I’m sure now you understand why England-Australia matches are so cherished- they’ve been trying to go down each other’s throats long before we were even born. Did you know that both England and Australia went into the final undefeated? This de facto final was hosted in Hyderabad’s Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium which turned the coin in Australia’s favor who elected to bowl first and restricted their counterparts to a shocking 96 in their 50! This attack was led by the commendable Sharon Tredrea who picked up 4 when it mattered most.
With their spirits and confidence sky-rocketing, the Aussie batters chased down this unchallenging target in just 31.3 overs, with skipper Margaret Jennings’s hands on the steering wheel with an impressive 57* who was also the highest run-scorer of the tournament. Jennings was given company by her teammate, Sharyn Hill who was the highest wicket-taker that year.
New Zealand was the only other team to secure a win with a convincing 9 wicket win, toppling India however, it wasn’t enough to match the finalists’ superiority. Likewise, India despite being hosts was not able to exploit their home advantage and ended up at the bottom of the table, winning none from their 3. Nonetheless, despite the statistical loss, they acquired a lot. This was the beginning of women’s cricket in India without which we would’ve never got today’s legends – Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Smriti Mandhana to name a few.
In conclusion, the 1978 world cup is remembered to date for its unusual commencement and preservation as finalist Megan Lear also quotes to espncricinfo.com, “India is certainly a country of many experiences, and on one occasion we had handed our cricket whites into the hotel laundry and on a journey by coach to the practice ground we saw them all being washed in the local river and laid out to dry on the rocks!”
Loves all things female cricket